General, Start Up Story

Start Up Story: Love From Lizi

Love from Lizi represents a labour of love for Elizabeth John, providing her with an outlet for her creative love of all things craft-related. She makes videos of her producing intricate greeting cards on her YouTube page, she shares her personal perspective on her blog, and just last week she set up her online shop to give her viewers/readers a chance to buy the materials she uses in the whole process! A busy woman indeed, in addition to working part-time and raising her 2 year old son Carson single-handedly, she certainly couldn’t devote as much time as she does if she didn’t love it so much!

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Elizabeth John, founder of Love From Lizi, with her son Carson

I’ve known Elizabeth for quite a while now (I’ve been dating her brother for nearly 4 years!), and I knew she was interested in craft. I’d seen her make beautiful wedding and party invitations and personalised greeting cards – but I didn’t realise how commercial her passion could be until I went to the Enterprise Nation Start-Up Saturday in March this year. There, learning about the power of Instagram and YouTube for crafters, building up audiences and then generating revenue from them, I finally understood that Elizabeth’s love could be something so much more than a hobby. Afterwards, I shared all the helpful tips I’d gotten during the day, and encouraged her to just go for it! Now, six months later, she’s sharing her Start Up Story so far:

How did you get into your love of craft?

I honestly believe I have always had craft running through my veins! My great-great-grandmother was a famous artist in her day, my Mum is also an incredibly talented artist (SoSilke), seemingly whatever medium she turns her hand to she creates something stunning. I also found it to be a fantastic release when studying at University; Law can be very heavy at times, and around exam and coursework time my bedroom would have one half with books and papers everywhere, the other half covered in glitter and bits and pieces of everything sticking to you. When everything became overwhelming, I’d just make something, and it’s as if my mind runs silent when I’m crafting – it’s my very happy place!

What do you want to achieve with Love from Lizi?

I’m trying my hardest to remain as fluid as possible, while maintaining a strict structure!!  Ultimately my goal is to be able to financially support my son and I. I consider it a gift if I manage to make beautiful things, encourage others to make beautiful things, teach others to make beautiful things. I would love to make a community with Love from Lizi , where people feel they have friends, and there are no stupid questions, and can be proud of sharing what they have made rather than be self-conscious. This is so much more than a shop to me, it’s like a little living creature that I want to nurture into this magnificent entity that people will want to be a part of as it’s so positive, enjoyable and informative.

What have managed you to achieve over the last 6 months?

In the last six months, I started to video myself making some very simple cards and upload them to YouTube to start with I asked all my friends and family to subscribe and like my videos, which they dutifully did, but I had no idea what I was doing or how to improve my channel. I ordered a monthly kit from an American company and started making cards with that kit and writing on “famous” crafting YouTubers walls saying things like, “I love this card, I can’t wait for my kit to come so I can get videoing” and slowly people started subscribing, every day I get a few more, and each time I upload a video I get a hit of new subscribers. I now have a following of 439 subscribers and my videos have been watched collectively 9388 times. There is a similar story with Instagram, I posted my first picture on the 28th of March, I now have 80 followers and that creeps up weekly. I have learned what a blog is and started to write one myself, I’m a little bit addicted to checking how many people have looked at my blog each day and from where in the world they are from!

I have also created a dedicated workspace for myself at home which has made an enormous difference. Previously I was working from the dining table, which was fine, but each meal time I’d have to clear everything away unless I wanted to run the risk of my two year old missile launcher splattering something over a project! I now sit at my work desk, with all my tools and papers in arms reach. It’s also a little bit perfect as it looks over Carson’s toys and play area in the lounge, so we can play together.

And finally, but perhaps most excitingly I have opened an online shop. I have always known what I wanted Love From Lizi to be, but I hadn’t found my nook, there wasn’t the focus, or item to get excited about. It was like balloons that I’ve been trying to tie different strings to for the last few years, but none of them fit or work somehow. I did a video demonstration making ten cards from one kit, and I try to use minimal products that aren’t in the kit so to make it easier for people to replicate my designs if they want to. But in this video I used something called peel offs, they are a kind of sticker, relatively cheap, but very effective on a card. Within hours of uploading the video I had 5 different subscribers asking where I got them from. It transpired these are an English thing, and Amazon wanted a lot of money for postage to the USA. I’d found my nook, and my string is perfect. I contacted a wholesaler and ordered some in silver, black and gold. I launched my shop on Friday the 2nd of September – by Tuesday the 5th of September I’d sold out of one of one of the colours. Three minutes later I’d ordered more!

Who or what has helped you to achieve your success to date?

Well I think foremost my little Carson, I’ve always had ideas about what I want to do with my time, but never worried too much about making anything work as I’ve always had the day job. I’m now at a juncture where I really don’t want my hours dictated by someone else, my sister, for example, was told by her employer that she couldn’t take her son to or from school on his first day as other people had already requested that time off. I’d be distraught! (She did manage in the end, but not without a lot of heartache and worry) Carson is without a doubt my little driving force!

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Without a shadow of a doubt you, Siobhan, are the second most responsible person! Whatever time, day or night, that I’ve contacted you, if you were at a wedding or on holiday it didn’t stop you sending positive encouragement and a little excited message so I could dance round my living room holding my phone knowing there was someone as excited as me somewhere! Having someone you can talk at and to I have found to be fantastic. I have in the past faced eye rolls and ‘she’s talking about craft again’ sort of responses, which I found made it difficult to become enthusiastic and excited without someone to share it with. Also, all the links you’ve posted on your blog, it’s very difficult to change your mind-set from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ and not something you can just decide, is something you really have to believe, having someone send you clapping hands emoticons and ‘yay’ or ‘that’s amazing’ or ‘you’re doing brilliantly’ is all it takes, a few of those and you have to work hard to not have the magic happen.

The group Noi Club has really helped me with self-promotion, it’s a fantastic group, and I really enjoy reading what other people are up against, as so often I can relate, and surely being able to relate is a fundamental of any kind of relationship, business, personal etc. Trying to relate has been a big learning curve for me, I am typically very locked into my opinions and as I’ve got older I learned that the only person held back by that is myself. It isn’t boasting or showing-off to want to share your achievements with other people all in their little boats travelling down the same river, yet I still struggle with it. Noi is nothing but positive, and I would really like to thank Paola Garbini for all the hard work she puts in to help and inspire everyone.

What key lessons have you learned over the last 6 months?

Be positive. Always be positive, even when it’s really hard to be, and there are times it’s really very hard to be, I’m currently facing an issue with the company that sends me the kits. Most Americans have their kits between the 20th and the 28th of the month, but often I don’t get them until the 6th or even 10th of the month! It’s hard to not get frustrated, but each time I do I brain-storm it. Write the problem in the middle and stem out the various solutions or alternatives. I do this every month the kit comes late, but looking at all the other options helps me see what I’m doing what’s best, even if it’s not perfect.

Manage expectations. Mainly my own, I want to do everything at once and super-fast and efficient, and perfect. I heard a quote, I think through my brother, ‘Done is better than perfect’ and I try to repeat that one as much as possible. I want this to work, and do well, but I want to sit on the floor with my son playing with his jigsaws, I want to eat unburnt food. Essentially while I love the bug I have for getting this to fly, I don’t want to miss out on everything else.

What help do you think you might need over the next 6 months?

Hopefully an assistant as I’m so busy and successful!! Haha!! I’m trying to work out systems now of organisation so that I’m on top of everything, like what is going in and out financially, inventory so that I don’t disappoint customers having to back order things, the sorts of things that most shop or business owners know to do, but I’m learning as I go. I am also very aware that I need a logo, so any help with that would be very much appreciated!

As flattered as I am that I have contributed to Elizabeth’s journey so far, I have to say that my support has been far from selfless! I have loved sharing any of the advice I have received with her, and I’ve also been so inspired with every successful step she’s taken so far! It all came full circle when she messaged me last week to say how excited she was about her new shop, and she said how grateful she was for everything ToGetHer Further had done for her – it was one of those painfully obvious penny-dropping moments – women working together, to get each other further. Wow. The blog is coming to life. It took very little effort from me, but it feels oh so rewarding in return. Looking forward to seeing what Love from Lizi (and ToGetHer Further!) achieve next.

If you’d like to learn more about Love from Lizi, or get in touch with Elizabeth to share any advice or feedback, just check out her website – http://lovefromlizi.com/ and she would be happy to hear from you.

Also, if you have a Start Up Story you’d like to share, please get in touch via ToGetHerFurther.

 

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